Navigating the World of International Internships

By Megan Kane, ISA Internships Outreach Manager

Not sure ISA Internships has internships in your desired career field?

Are you unsure of which country offers the best opportunities for your specific interests?

Not finding a placement that “speaks to you” on the website?
Fear not! This is a common concern that many students and advisors have when working with international internships. Applying for an internship abroad is different than applying for a study abroad program where you know exactly when you apply what university you will attend and what classes will be offered.

In turn, an international internship requires a more personalized approach since the application and placement process is focused on each student’s unique professional goals, personal interests, and qualifications. How is this achieved? By being all ears before you even apply.

Many students and advisors reach out to and speak with ISA Internships and Service-Learning’s Outreach Manager with questions that range from “which site is best for my interests?” all the way to “will I use public transportation to get to my internship placement?” (Spoiler alert: yes, you will. Public transportation is a part of living like a local!)

Last fall, an advisor reached out to the Outreach Manager in regards to a student interested in a forensic anthropology internship where she could work hands-on with bones. You read that right, bones. While we hadn’t placed a student in that specific field in the past, our Outreach Manager was able to contact our placement teams abroad to see what the chances were of finding an internship. Within just a few days, our team in Santiago, Chile said they felt confident that they could do it!

We contacted the advisor and let her know that Jennifer should apply for an internship in Santiago, Chile. Once Jennifer applied, she and her ISA Program Manager worked together in the advising session to clarify her short- and long-term career goals and academic requirements. Together, they got her resume and cover letter in tip-top shape to send to the placement team in Santiago.

After a bit of back and forth over the next seven weeks, Jennifer was confirmed in an internship at the Servicio Médico Legal de Chile under the Chile’s Ministry of Justice and Human Rights to work with a team of doctors and anthropologists to determine the cause of death for those who died because of human rights issues or natural disasters. She got to conduct procedures with bone material and participate in on-site excavations–a perfect match for Forensic Anthropology major, Jennifer!

The moral of the story? Reach out to us and tell us your internship interests! Let us share with you what past interns with similar interests have done and make recommendations on best location for your goals. Even if we haven’t had an applicant with the exact same interests and qualifications as you, we can reach out to our teams abroad, just like we did with Jennifer.

So, while the path to confirming your internship takes a little longer that a study abroad application, the pay-off is an internship placement confirmed before you depart that is tailored specifically to you!

Author: International Studies Abroad (ISA)

Since 1987, International Studies Abroad (ISA) has provided college students in the United States and Canada the opportunity to explore the world. ISA offers a wide variety of study abroad programs at accredited schools and universities in 73 program locations throughout the world.

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